The translation of the term from the root Japanese word is “the real place”, Gemba is also known as “the place where value is created”. As a whole, it means taking the time to watch how a process is done and talking directly with those who do the job. Check out one of our recent On A Roll videos for a overview of what Gemba consists of here!
What is Gemba?
Gemba focuses on the importance of leadership understanding what is happening at every level within a company. It emphasizes that problems in a business process are often easily visible and solvable, and the best improvements come from directly from the team members involved in the processes daily. Over the course of a Gemba walk, leaders should listen to team member’s successes, challenges and concerns and provide feedback to the team.
Gemba walks encourage greater communication, transparency and trust between the team members and leadership. Because of this ideology, it is not valuable to use a Gemba walk to point out team member flaws or enforce policy as this runs the risk of decreasing morale and making team members reluctant to share information.
The Power of Gemba
The in-person observation promoted by Gemba walks allows leaders to see the difference between what they assume is happening and what is actually happening within the company. It also gives them a chance to interact with the people doing the job allowing greater understanding of the process. By leadership focusing on the operation, listening to team members, and taking the time to reflect on what is needed daily, a cooperative atmosphere is created.
Here at YL, we have boards located in each department to track progress and any concerns that may arise. These boards, examples pictured below, are updated and reviewed daily. By closely observing day to day operations and listening to employees, leadership may gain a fresh perspective and new insight into how changed can make products better for customers.
7 Steps for a Successful Gemba Walk
- Get team members involved in the creation of the Gemba report out!
- Formalize a list of questions and concerns to review at each board during the Gemba.
- Share your experiences and feedback as you walk through the areas. Be sure to keep these comments and examples constructive!
- Make appropriate notes and assign follow up tasks where needed, you also need to track these tasks and create accountability.
- Establish how often Gemba walks will be conducted. Here at Yerecic Label we do them 3x daily, however frequency is based on the appropriate amount of touch points that each team or team members need.
- Conduct Gemba reflections with their respective teams.
- Establish a “train the trainer” mentality that promotes the importance of the company being a learning organization.
To learn more about how this lean practice has positively impacted Yerecic Label, reach out today!